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Bring People Together

Chukat-Balak (Numbers 19:1-25:9 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

Peace is wonderful. But it doesn't just happen by itself. Sometimes even people who want to get along need a little help to do so.

Aaron the Cohen (the Jewish High Priest) was Moses' brother. He was famous and beloved among the Jewish people for "pursuing peace."

Aaron would go back and forth between two people who were quarrelling and do whatever he had to, in order to bring them back to harmony.

In this week's portion, the Torah relates the death of Aaron. He was so beloved that all the people mourned for him even more than when their great leader Moses died!

When we pursue peace and work to bring people together in harmony, we do them (and the whole world) a great service.


In our story, (continued from last week), a girl extends herself to make peace among her friends.


      Marcia looked out at the happy group of kids jumping rope in the middle of her quiet street. It was a pleasant summer scene, really quite typical for this friendly little neighborhood. But it hadn't always been like this.

      Two of the girls in the neighborhood, cousins who used to be close friends, had gotten into a serious argument which had nearly split the street in half as all their friends rushed to take sides. Marcia had tried to remain neutral and at the same time she had convinced a lot of other kids to pull out of the fight and stay friends with each other.

      Fortunately, most had listened to her and were now enjoying a relaxed summer of neighborhood fun. But one thing still bothered Marcia. It had been days since she had seen either Elaine or Sue, the two girls who had gotten into the argument in the first place and who, sadly, were still into it.

      One morning, Marcia finished helping her mom bake a big batch of her famous giant chocolate chip cookies and asked her if she could go out and play.

      "Sure," said her mom, smiling as she handed her a couple of the still-warm cookies for the road.

      With that, Marcia set out on her "peace mission."

      She walked to the end of the block, where Elaine lived. She rang the doorbell of her house. At first, there was no answer, but Marcia continued to ring the bell and at last the door opened. "Oh hi Marcia," said Elaine. Even though the girl was smiling, Marcia could see from her red eyes that her friend had been doing some crying. "What brings you here?" she asked. "I thought you'd be out playing with everybody else."

      Marcia drew a deep breath "Well, how could I, knowing that you're not out there with us? Please come join us!"

      Elaine tensed up. "I doubt that anyone even misses me ... especially Sue."

      Marcia thought for a moment. "Well...," she said. "I happen to know that Sue is just heartbroken about your misunderstanding. She has refused to leave her house and would like nothing better than to make up with you and be friends."

      Suddenly Marcia got an idea. With her cheeriest look, she held out the neatly wrapped package she had been carrying. She handed the girl what she called a "peace-cookie."

      Elaine took a bite from the cookie and smiled.

      "This is really yummy," she said. "Listen, Marcia, thanks for coming by, I also want to make up with Sue, and I'm willing to compromise. But I just don't know if I'm ready to face her yet."

      "You'll see, Elaine -- where there's a will there's a way," assured Marcia.

      With that she said goodbye to her friend and headed down her driveway with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.

      A few minutes later Marcia found herself at the other end of the block, talking to Sue outside the front door of the girl's house. "So Sue," she said, "Please take this cookie I baked as a peace offering. Elaine is so upset. All she wants is for the two of you to make up." Sue managed a weak smile behind her red-rimmed eyes.

      "That was really sweet," she said. "I miss her too, but I have to think about it." Marcia nodded and headed home to help out her mom take care of their new baby. Later in the afternoon Marcia went back outside to join her friends jumping rope.

      Surprise! Who do you think were swinging the rope but Elaine and Sue!

      As soon as the two newly reunited friends saw Marcia they rushed over to her, all smiles. Elaine spoke first, "I don't know what you put in your 'peace-cookies,' but they sure worked!"

      "Yeah, I'll say!" added Sue eagerly, "We met up with each other right here in the middle of the street and worked everything out between us. We were both on our way to each other's houses to apologize! How did you do it?" she exclaimed.

      Marcia just smiled. How would she ever explain to them that her "secret ingredient" was her love of peace and her love of her friends?


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Elaine and Sue feel after they made up?
A. They were really happy to be friends again and grateful to Marcia for helping them to make up.

Q. If we see that two of our friends aren't getting along with each other, should we try to make peace between them or just leave them alone?
A. Whenever we can we should try to help them make peace with each other. It is doing them a big favor.

Ages 6-9

Q. Why do you think Marcia was successful in making peace between her friends?
A. In a word, she cared. She took her friends' situation to heart. It really bothered her that they weren't getting along, and she was willing to put in the effort to help them. She was in an ideal position to do so, because she had not taken sides in the quarrel.

Q. Do you think that Sue and Elaine would have been as likely to have made up if Marcia hadn't gotten involved? Why or why not?
A. Even though both girls were feeling bad about the fight and wanted to make up, it likely would have been much harder without Marcia's help. For one thing, it would have been hard for either of the girls to take the risk of approaching the other one to make peace without knowing in advance that she also wanted to make up. Marcia helped to "open the doors" by letting each of them know that the other was also interested in peace, and encouraged them both to go forward.

Q. Did you ever find yourself in a fight that you didn't want to get into? How did you resolve it?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. When Marcia told Elaine that Sue wanted to reconcile with her, she really wasn't sure that it was true. Do you think Marcia did the right thing even though it involved stretching the truth?
A. Being truthful is one of the highest values. Marcia's approach expressed a deeper truth since most people prefer to be at peace with their friends. So in this case it was justified as a means to help bring her friends together and maintain peace and harmony.

Q. What skills are necessary to successfully be able to "make peace" between two parties?
A. Peacemaking is an art that requires much wisdom and sensitivity. To attempt to merely force two parties, who have genuine grievances against each other, to "hug and make up" is unrealistic and likely to fail. First, one must determine if both parties genuinely do want peace and are willing to compromise. If not, it may be better to stay out of it. Once this is determined, we have to try to find ways for each side to maintain its dignity and find a compromise that both parties can truly live with as a basis for lasting harmony.

Q. Did you ever find yourself in a fight that you didn't want to get into? How did you resolve it?



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